As part of his anti-union campaign, Glenn Beck claimed that collective bargaining for public employees exists only through an "executive order by John Kennedy" because "there was never a law passed." In fact, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Service Reform Act in 1978 granting federal employees collective bargaining rights, and Wisconsin passed a statute allowing its public sector employees to collectively bargain in 1959.
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Beck Claims Collective Bargaining "Was Never A Right" For Public Sector Workers
Beck: "There Was Never A Law Passed" Allowing Public Sector Collective Bargaining. From the April 5 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: May I just spend a minute on collective bargaining? FDR, the lion of progressivism, was against it for government employees. And that's what we're talking about here. Why was he against it?
Because FDR was not anti-American. He just didn't see America the same way. But he wasn't trying to destroy it entirely. He was going to make it the leader of the world.
He warned about the dangers of government strike, which he called unthinkable and intolerable. Even the president of the AFL-CIO in 1955 said it was impossible to collectively bargain with the government. This was never a right. This was an executive order by John Kennedy. There was never a law passed.
You have two parties negotiating a deal and they're using someone else's money: yours. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/5/11]
Beck: "Know The History And Truth Of Your Own Country." Moments after claiming "there was never a law passed" allowing public sector collective bargaining, Beck warned that history is "being hijacked":
BECK: Do you see what's happening? And they're equating that with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement? It's an abomination.
I told you at the very beginning of this year when I came back from vacation and we met here, I told you about E4. I told you that you were the solution, to stop looking for leaders, to be a leader yourself.
Enlightenment -- find out what you truly believe. Is God important? Educate yourself. Empower yourself.
And then, entrepreneurship -- be part of something creative, not a destructive force. Be a force for good. Know the history and the truth of your own country, it is so important because history is being hijacked. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/5/11]
Beck Has Previously Misinformed About Collective Bargaining In Order To Attack Unions. Beck has previously falsely claimed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "collective bargaining would destroy us." He has also dismissed the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. died while fighting for labor rights and suggested that unions are using workers to further their planned "destruction of the western way of life." [Media Matters, 3/1/11, 3/2/11, 3/21/11]
In Fact, Federal Statute Allows Civil Servants To Collectively Bargain
The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Gave Federal Employees Right To Join Unions. From the website of the Federal Labor Relations Authority, an agency set up by the Civil Service Reform Act:
The FLRA is an independent administrative federal agency created by Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (also known as the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute) (the Statute). ... The Statute allows certain non-postal federal employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their choice in decisions affecting their working lives. The Postal Reorganization Act ... governs labor-management relations in the Postal Service.
The Statute defines and lists the rights of employees, labor organizations, and agencies so as to reflect the public interest demand for the highest standards of employee performance and the efficient accomplishment of Government operations. ... Specifically, the Statute requires that its provisions "should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirement of an effective and efficient Government." [Federal Labor Relations Authority, accessed 4/5/11]
The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Grants Federal Employees Right To "Engage In Collective Bargaining." From the Civil Service Reform Act:
Each [federal] employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right. Except as otherwise provided under this chapter, such right includes the right --
(1) to act for a labor organization in the capacity of a representative and the right, in that capacity, to present the views of the labor organization to heads of agencies and other officials of the executive branch of the Government, the Congress, or other appropriate authorities, and
(2) to engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment through representatives chosen by employees under this chapter. [5 U.S.C. § 7102, accessed 4/6/11, via Cornell University Law School]
The Civil Service Reform Act Of 1978 Provides That "Labor Organizations And Collective Bargaining In the Civil Service Are In The Public Interest." From the Civil Service Reform Act:
The Congress finds that --
(1) experience in both private and public employment indicates that the statutory protection of the right of employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their own choosing in decisions which affect them --
(A) safeguards the public interest,
(B) contributes to the effective conduct of public business, and
(C) facilitates and encourages the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers involving conditions of employment.
Therefore, labor organizations and collective bargaining in the civil service are in the public interest. [5 U.S.C. § 7101, accessed 4/6/11, via Cornell University Law School]
Beginning With Wisconsin, States Also Give Public Employees Right To Collectively Bargain
Wisconsin Passed First Law Allowing State Employees To Collectively Bargain In 1959. The Wisconsin Education Association Council reports:
Stories about the 1959 Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law and how it passed are apocryphal and difficult to verify. Many say Wisconsin's teachers gained their collective bargaining rights rather accidentally, as conservative lawmakers who opposed collective bargaining rights for public employees added teachers to the bill thinking that would convince moderates to vote against it. To the conservatives' chagrin, the bill passed anyway, and apparently did so without the support or even the real notice of the Wisconsin Education Association.
What is not in dispute is that the 1959 law was the first collective bargaining law for public employees in the United States, and the first law of any kind that granted teachers anywhere the right to organize into unions. [Wisconsin Education Association Council, accessed 4/6/11]
Following Wisconsin's Lead, Other States Gave Employees The Power To Join Unions And Collectively Bargain. Before the wave of anti-union legislation, dozens of states permitted at least some state employees to unionize. [TalkingPointsMemo, 2/18/11]